In a recent New York Times article, Can We Interest You in Teaching, Frank Bruni highlights many important topics regarding teacher pay, respect, and certification. After my experience teaching at Summerbridge, I could not help but nod at every single statement Bruni makes. Even though three summers is not a good enough reflection of what a school year looks like, I can understand why 12-hour work days, sleep deprivation, multiple cups of coffee per day, writing and rewriting on the white board, repeating lesson plans for different classes, copier malfunctions, student behavior problems, super long faculty meetings, and countless hours working on weekends would drive “more than 40 percent of the people who do go into teaching to exit the profession within five years”. The truth is, teaching is difficult. My Instructional Coach told me that 90% of teaching is going to be the background work and only 10% is actually standing in front of the classroom—I cannot agree more. I would spend hours making an equation worksheet that is engaging and educational, designing the curriculum, writing the individual lesson plans, revising the lesson plans, and not to mention standing by the copier waiting for the papers. At some point during the summer, I felt like my internship was taking over my life.
Despite all the work, I do not regret taking on this internship at all. After three summers, I know that teachers are impactful and teaching is a very rewarding job. During the 9th grade camping trip, rising 9thgraders shared their gratitude for their teachers and during an anonymous “tap someone who...” activity, many students tapped me when giving the prompt “tap someone who has inspired you”. At that moment, I knew that I have a purpose and my job as an educator is not done. Other moments such as receiving hand-written cards from students confirmed that my job is worth all the stress and hard work that teaching brings.
As someone who has been through 13 years of schooling, I realized that I am programmed to receive information and am not necessarily good at explaining something back. I’ve had students ask me to repeat things over and over again because something as small as a class cut-and-paste-on-poster activity can be confusing to students. There is a technique called task analysis that teaches teachers how to break down problems into small digestible chunks. I think I am better at it now and the technique will definitely help me in the future when I need to explain a task to someone. Overall, I have learned and practiced other teaching techniques such as “see, say, do” that will be beneficial regardless if I go into primary or secondary education.
During Celebration night, I got to shake the 9th graders’ hands as they walked across the stage during graduation. I felt very accomplished because these students are going to great high schools and I know that by coming to Summerbridge they are changing the trajectory of their life. Even though this may be my last summer at SB, I know that my work is not done. By minoring in education, I hope to gain more skills and be a great role model for many more children. And I hope to work toward making the classroom a more sensible, exciting, and fulfilling place as any other.